Documenting the renovation of her beautiful 17th Century West Midlands barn on Instagram, Rosie of @thegrade2barn has consistently styled Jim Lawrence lighting throughout. We’ve always admired her home from afar, so what better time than Christmas to cross the cosy threshold and delve into the details to find out more about this statement country home.
Welcome to the Style Journal, Rosie. Firstly, please can you tell us a little about yourself and where you live?
I’m Rosie, I live deep in the countryside on the Cheshire/Shropshire border in a 17th Century, grade 2 listed barn conversion. I’ve previously worked in finance but currently spend most of my time renovating my home.
How did you find yourself in the world of interiors?
I’ve always had a passion for interiors. Even as a child I would constantly move furniture around in my bedroom, looking to create cosy corners.
Can you tell us about the history of the property?
The bones of the barn date back to the 17th century and were part of a farmstead belonging to a local Manor House which is assumed to be the most haunted property in the area! Our barn in particular was intended to be two separate properties, hence having the two staircases and two separate second floor areas. Unfortunately the original developer ran out of funds and the barn was left as one. We began transforming the barn just over two years ago and I guess you could say it’s a work in progress, constantly evolving!
Were there any surprises uncovered when renovations began?
On viewing the barn, we knew we would have to update all the bathrooms and kitchen. However, we didn’t expect to have to replace an underfloor ground source heating system and install a separate manifold upstairs, including all new radiators..! We also had to take up all the original limestone flooring throughout the barn, as it had been very poorly installed, lifting and cracking in many areas, past the point of repair. We also replaced both staircases.
In hindsight, I underestimated how tricky this property would be to decorate. Many of our room proportions are on the large side and both north and south facing. Resulting in a paint colour looking amazing in one half of the room and not so great on the opposite side.
We think you have done a fantastic job. The colour palette of your home is quite neutral and earthy, how much are you influenced by the natural materials and rural setting?
I take inspiration from the never-ending countryside surrounding the barn, bringing the soft neutrals indoors. I believe you can’t really go wrong, replicating the soft earthy colours of nature, amongst a property that is dominated by lots of natural oak beams.
Where else do you seek ideas for the home?
Magazines, Pinterest, Instagram, hotels and even Rightmove!
You have chosen many Jim Lawrence lights throughout the barn, what does good lighting mean to you?
Lighting can make or break a design and is therefore a really important finishing touch. I love your products, as there are so many to choose from, accommodating awkward spaces and low ceilings. I love great craftsmanship and classic designs.
Other than introducing bigger changes such as lighting and perhaps paint colour, what have you found is the most effective ways to transform a room?
I love to transform a space with good quality classic pieces of furniture and layering accessories, using colour and texture.
Like many of your followers, we have enjoyed watching the amazing evolution of lightening your darker wooden beams. Does the prospect of trial and error put you off any of these processes or are you confident in taking the plunge when it comes to any decorative ‘hacks’?
Ah thank you, I’m never confident taking on new interior hacks, such as lightening the beams! However, I do love a challenge and getting creative. I’ve always carried out my own painting and decorating, learning new skills along the way.
Do you have any magical tips up your sleeve for taking care of an older listed building?
Just to be sympathetic to your property and work with its historic features, not against. Embrace the quirks, even if it goes against your usual style of interior decorating and styling. Oh and wearing thermals are key too!
Yes, we needed practical flooring to accommodate our cockapoos and general country lifestyle. We chose solid oak and stone flooring with our girls in mind. A rustic feel, nothing too polished or shiny was always the brief.
We are slipping into the cooler, cosier months now, how are you ensuring every corner is comfortable and inviting for the season?
As we’ve worked through each area of the barn, I’ve introduced as much additional sources of heat as possible. The Aga was a must, underfloor heating, mini stoves…. not to mention cosy throws, rugs, and candles.
Do you have any major interior aspirations for 2024?
To introduce more colour into the barn to compliment the exposed red brick work. I have some new colour schemes waiting in the wings that I can’t wait to get started on.
A few quick-fire questions…
What’s the staple homeware piece that everyone needs?
A good quality classic sofa. Nothing spells home like timeless upholstery.
Which is your favourite room of the house?
Favourite room in the house has to be the kitchen. A modern country design, with warm neutrals. I never tire of this space, an absolute joy to work in. It was so worth the investment.
Your favourite Jim Lawrence product?
My favourite Jim Lawrence lighting, that’s a tricky one…. I have so many and love them all! If I had to make a choice, the Mia Pendant Lights. Understated, delicate, classic design with a big impact.
Follow Rosie on Instagram (@thegrade2barn) to see more of her beautiful home. To stay up to date with Jim Lawrence, follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Browse our website to see all of our hand forged and finished lighting and homeware.